A lot less cash if Lote returns to NRL
A return to the NRL for Lote Tuqiri seems unlikely with only one club expressing a serious interest in the sacked Wallaby. Of all 16 NRL clubs, only the Gold Coast have said they would actively pursue negotiations with Tuqiri if he was interested in returning to rugby league.
“If he wants to come back to rugby league and if he’s comfortable coming back to rugby league wouldn’t affect his legal case, which it shouldn’t, then we’d talk to him,” Titans chief executive Michael Searle told AAP on Thursday.
But any negotiations would depend on the circumstances surrounding Tuqiri’s contract termination with the Australian Rugby Union and whether the former Brisbane, Queensland and Australia winger would be willing to take a substantial pay cut.
“He’d have to take a pay cut, that’s a rhetorical question really, he’s got no alternative but to because no one in rugby league can afford his current salary,” Searle said.
St George Illawarra, coached by Tuqiri’s former Brisbane mentor Wayne Bennett, refused to rule out interest but weren’t actively pursuing the flyer.
Both Tuqiri’s former club, the Broncos, and Parramatta, denied they were in the hunt despite reports suggesting interest.
Eels football manager Andrew Hill said despite Tuqiri’s appeal on and off the field, they were not in a position to make a reasonable offer.
Broncos chief executive Bruno Cullen said the club’s salary cap was completely used up for the next two seasons, regardless if fullback Karmichael Hunt heads overseas to play rugby at the end of 2009.
“Anything we’re able to offer Lote would be an insult,” Cullen told AAP.
Another roadblock is the NRL’s seeming reluctance to grant Tuqiri an exemption with the June 30 deadline on 2009 registrations having passed.
“There is an exceptional circumstances clause but generally we don’t register players after the 30th of June,” NRL chief executive David Gallop told AAP.
“I don’t know enough about it. I don’t know anything about the reason why he’s been terminated.”
But it was the lack of room for a marquee player under the salary cap which forced clubs to say they would not be chasing Tuqiri, despite many admitting he’d be a dream signing.
“For us to even consider him, he’d have to be paid about a fifth of what he’s currently being paid and do five times more work,” Bulldogs boss Todd Greenberg told AAP.
“There’s no way he’s going to earn that amount of money in rugby league and that’s something for him to consider.”
In 2007, South Sydney came close to signing Tuqiri before he turned down a reported $1 million a season deal.
And the Rabbitohs say they will not be pursuing the dual international again despite their previous interest.
“There’s not a cent. We had room in the salary cap then, but we don’t have it now,” Rabbitohs boss Shane Richards said.
“We’re not really interested, we’ve got Rhys Wesser at fullback, Nathan Merritt, Fetuli Talanoa on the wings. We’ve gone in a different direction now.”
North Queensland, Newcastle, Penrith, Roosters, Canberra, Melbourne, Sharks, Warriors, Manly and Tigers all said they would not be looking to sign Tuqiri.
It leaves a lucrative rugby union deal overseas with either a Japanese or French club the most likely option for Tuqiri.© AAP 2013
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